Presented by his mother, Francine Haight
Ryan was born on December 28, 1982 and died on February 12, 2001 from an overdose of prescription drugs he had purchased on the Internet. He was only 18 when he died.
Ryan was an incredible boy. From the time he was little, I always believed that he would make a difference in this world; I just did not know he would be so far away. He was very intelligent and excelled in school. He love math and science, was at the top oh his class, was a Gate student in the elementary years, and then went on to take honors classes. He was an “A” student and maintained a 4.0 or above during his years in high school. He looked forward to going to college.
Ryan was athletic and loved the thrill of competition. In elementary school he played Little League Baseball and then became a top player in the Majors and made the All Star Team. He played Open Junior tournaments, and went on to play Varsity tennis for Grossmont High School in La Mesa, California. He loved to snow ski, snow board, water ski, kneeboard, and attempted all sports with great enthusiasm. He loved to play billiards, bowl, and play ping-pong.
Ryan loved using the computer. He was thrilled to find out that he could easily chat online with his friends from school. He could send and receive email everyday. He could enter chat rooms and talk about educational and current events. He learned to surf the Internet. It was a perfect place for him to use for his papers in school, or to seek information he was curious about. Ryan used the computer to play games against his friends, to compete in Fantasy Baseball where players choose their teams. He loved to trade baseball cards on eBay. Ryan was taking a computer graphics class in high school. He was considering a possible career with computers. But on February 12, 2001 that all stopped.
That day I found Ryan lifeless in his bed. I tried to resuscitate him, but could not bring him back. Ryan had died. I was in shock. Just the night before, we had dinner together after he came home from work at a near–by retail store. He used my Jacuzzi tub because he said his back bothered him from lifting things at work. At midnight I had kissed him goodnight and he said “Love you, Mom.” Those were the last words I would hear from him. Ryan died from an overdose of Vicodin, a prescription drug. I thought, How? How did he get these drugs? After one of his friends told us he got them off the Internet, we gave our computer to the DEA to investigate. Through their investigation, they found how Ryan had ordered the drugs from a medical doctor he never saw (Dr. Robert Ogle), and an Internet pharmacist (Clayton Fuchs of Main Street Pharmacy) delivered them to our home. And although they are both serving time in prison, it does not bring my Ryan back. We also learned of web sites on the Internet that have chat rooms that glorify the use of drugs and where sellers go to encourage our children to try them. Since Ryan’s death we have found there are hundreds of Internet pharmacies selling prescription drugs.
I told Ryan’s story to the United States Senate after the introduction of the Ryan Haight Act by Senators Diane Feinstein and Norm Coleman. This bill would counter the growing sale of controlled prescription drugs on the Internet without a valid prescription. It would 1) require the Internet Pharmacy web site to display information identifying their business. 2) It would bar the selling of drugs via the Internet when the web site has referred the customer to doctor who then writes a prescription without ever seeing the patient. 3) The bill provides states with new enforcement authority that will allow a state Attorney General to shut down a rogue site across the country, rather than only bar sales to consumers of his or her state. Since Ryan’s death, others have died after purchasing controlled drugs over the Internet. Prescription drug usage is up among our teens. The passing of this Bill is a good place to start to protect our youth from having an easy way to get them.
Since Ryan’s death, my life has never been the same and will never be the same. There is an emptiness in my heart that follows me wherever I go.
Ryan loved his family. His sister, Natalie was his best friend. They did everything together when they were growing up. He was a very loving and caring brother to his younger brother, Jeremy. He played games with Jeremy, entertained him, and was very responsible with taking care of him when needed. Our family liked to travel. He saw many of the National Parks from Yosemite to Mount Rushmore. He skied and snow boarded many of the beautiful ski resorts from Sun Valley to Vail. He cruised the Caribbean, and visited Hawaii. He saw the pyramids in Mexico. He camped, house boasted and went river rafting. He saw and experienced many of the beautiful things our world has to o ffer. With so much to live for, his life was lost to drugs.
Ryan is deeply missed by many. My grief continues and extends beyond the immediate family. Ryan’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends feel Ryan’s death very deeply. Ryan will never see Jeremy play his guitar or take him out for ice cream. Ryan will never be here to talk for long hours with his sister and best friend, Natalie. I will not see him graduate from high school or college, attend his wedding, and be grandmother to his children. But we continue to water our white roses, and drink our Sprite with no ice in his memory. Ryan will be forever missed and will remain in our hearts forever.
Francine Hahn Haight received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Arizona State University. She is a Registered Nurse with work experience in Medical Intensive Care (ICU) Surgical ICU, CCU, Emergency Room, Operating Room and Public Health, and is the Founder of Ryan's Cause (Reaching Youths Abusing Narcotics) She is mother of three children and after she found her son, Ryan, had died from an overdose of prescription drugs purchased from the Internet, she made it her goal to reach out and work to prevent this from happening to others. Francine has told her story to numerous local and national news stations, television programs including Dateline NBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America and Montel Williams, magazines including Reader’s Digest and Family Circle, and local and national news papers including the Washington Post and USA Today to help educate and bring more awareness to the public the dangers of sales of drugs on the Internet. Her most recent participation was with E Entertainment where she told her story on a documentary called “Online Nightmares”. Ryan’s story was also mentioned in the HBO 14–part series called Addiction.